24.2.14

IT'S NOT LOVE, IT'S JUST PARIS, by Patricia Engel

Contemporary fiction doesn't get much better than this. From the setting to the characters, it's completely beguiling. Lita del Cielo, an American whose orphaned parents once fled Colombia to find their fortune in America (and pulled it off), is given a year in Paris to pursue her studies. When her time's up, she's expected to return home and work in her parents' Latin food empire. Click to read more...but no spoilers!

Lita's lodging is in a once-magnificent boarding house called The House of Stars where the bed-ridden Countess (a real one) rents threadbare rooms to young women of quality. Lita the newcomer, observes the richly varied inhabitants of the House of Stars, gets advice from the Countess, is escorted about town by Loic the countess's philosophical grandson, and gradually explores Paris, a treasure trove for the young. And then she meets Cato...
Beautifully written through Lita's eyes, the story - told from the perfect viewpoint  - will keep you in its velvet grip right until the last page. If this is literary fiction, then I'm all for this micro-view of Paris, of love, of the struggle between duty and love, between expectations and reality, between safety and disaster. This is the next book you should read. A 5.